Rules for Out-of-Towners to Survive The Big Cities of America


In 1970 the “Out-of-Towners,” a super-successful play on Broadway written by acclaimed playwright, Neil Simon, was made into a hit-movie starring Jack Lemmon as George and Sandy Dennis as his wife, Gwen Kellerman, who live in the quiet town of Twin Oaks, Ohio with their two kids and pet dog.

The story was your typical “little fish wanting to be in a big pond,” plot with Jack Lemmon who has “paid his dues,” as it were as a top-notch salesman in his hometown and now is in-line for a big promotion in New York City with a bigger company and a higher-paying job.

There is where the conservative mid-western couple get a taste of just how rude, crude, and brash the big city can be. To the Kellerman’s, New York is just a series of orchestrated-annoyances and inconveniences forcing them to use their wits, patience, and every tool at their disposal to survive a garbage strike, a mugging, and a George losing a cap on a tooth to, as George says, “just get a nice motel room, a hot shave and a couple of hours sleep so I can make the meeting with this big plastics company,” as they begin to see the light at the end of their troubles.

Now for clarification purposes, the term, out-of-towners is not to be confused with people going out-on-the-town and the name of a classic Hollywood movie, “Not as a Stranger,” (synonymous with the term, out-of-towner) starring Robert Mitchum, Olivia de Havilland and Frank Sinatra.

The real "Out-of-Towner's"

Sandy Dennis, left, as Gwen Kellerman and Jack Lemmon as George Kellerman in the 1970 movie, the "Out-of-Towner's."
Sandy Dennis, left, as Gwen Kellerman and Jack Lemmon as George Kellerman in the 1970 movie, the "Out-of-Towner's." | Source

What the Kellerman's and you need

if you are planning an out-of-town weekend vacation or just go to an out-of-town for your anniversary to have a fine dinner, there are certain rules that need to be followed if you are to have a fun evening with your loved one.

What will happen to us if we do not follow these rules for out-of-towner's?

  • You will get stares that you will not like
  • You will get laughed at and looked up and down with hostile indignation
  • People will whisper about you and not the nice kind
  • Some people will point at you as you slowly walk to your table

These lovely young women are going "out on the town," not to be confused with the term, "out-of-towner's.
These lovely young women are going "out on the town," not to be confused with the term, "out-of-towner's. | Source

If you follow these rules for out-of-towners

you will be treated just like you were one of the residents of whatever new city you and your loved one are visiting. Plus you will feel so good at knowing that all it took was to follow these simple rules.

  1. Do not bring unwanted attention to yourself. Wear common, average clothes. Nothing causes the eyes of strangers to gawk more than a man in a tux and his wife in a flashy dress for evening wear.
  2. Do not talk loudly anywhere you are eating or just watching a Broadway play. Citizens of big cities are like sharks. They can smell people from out of town, so whisper if you must communicate.
  3. Do not act-up or even complain mildly if your steak is half-done or your room in the expensive motel is infested with cockroaches. Residents are just "hazing" you to initiate you to their way of life.
  4. Blend into the throngs of people who live in the big city. Walk with your heads down and this way you will not be singled-out of the crowd and made to feel like a leper just because you are out of town.
  5. Wear hats, men and women. This is the perfect camouflage or disguise for keeping those rude city dwellers from looking at you and saying nasty things about you.
  6. Be extra-nice to cab drivers, waiters, motel clerks, police officers, and even the bums who are begging for spare change. You never know when a resident might dress like a hobo to just see what you are doing in his city.
  7. Over-tip I do not care if the service is lousy. Smile even though you are irate at the lack of good service. The residents will not attack someone with a smile as quickly as they will someone who is bellyaching.

Olivia de Havilland, left, and Robert Mitchum, two stars of "Not as a Stranger."
Olivia de Havilland, left, and Robert Mitchum, two stars of "Not as a Stranger." | Source
The guy on the left stands for anyone who is trying to fit into a place without standing-out from the crowd.
The guy on the left stands for anyone who is trying to fit into a place without standing-out from the crowd. | Source

More rules for out-of-towner's

  • Never talk back to rude residents of a big city. I will tell you why. If you get arrested, you are the out-of-towner and who do you think the police and courts will side with? Not you. But the resident who has mistreated you just because he can and get away with it. Be wise and agree with everything said to you.
  • Never make eye-contact with anyone. This is the first step in having trouble with a big city yokel.
  • Never and I mean never, speak to anyone verbally or by throwing your hand up to signal a friendly hello. This resident has never met you, so you are giving them grounds to beat you up or call the cops if he is a civil resident.
  • Never get angry if the rude, barbaric men of this big city ogle and whistle at your pretty wife. Just smile and say, "You sure know your women," and keep walking.
  • Hurry up and do whatever business you need to do and get back to your motel. Police are always looking for a doofus who is loitering so they can issue a ticket to meet their quota.
  • If someone runs into you and your wife, quickly take the blame. What you do not need is a heated-argument with a person who lives in the big city.

When you visited a big city for the first time, what did you do?

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Just in case

tyou meet a resident of the big city, and he or she makes the first move to be friendly, let them. And be very gracious. Nice people still have a place in this cold, heartless society.

And more things you do if the resident comes to you

  • And accuses you of something, laugh, smile and say maybe it was my fault, but I do not carry a firearm
  • And wants to have a fight with you, just be humble and say, "I do not want any trouble, mister, but if you want to go ahead and beat me up. Go ahead."
  • And curses you, just act like you are not an English-speaking American. Before your trip, learn a few words in Portuguese that will come in handy for situations like this.
  • And reaches out to shake your hand, do it, but very quickly. And thank him over and over. Better to be thought of as mentally-challenged than to be a he-man.


"And if you are going to visit a bit city in the near future, I want to go on record and say, I am not interested."

Home-bodies have no business in the big city.

Which one is the out-of-towner?
Which one is the out-of-towner? | Source

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Comments 4 comments

rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 2 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

I am going to San Francisco soon, so I will keep this list in mind! Thanks!


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Rebecca,

Thank you sincerely for reading and commenting on my self-help hub. I re-read this late last night and cried myself to a sense of mental paralysis at the disbelief that I could have written something like this. But DO use some of these tips for they might save your life.

Be careful. And visit with me anytime.


catgypsy profile image

catgypsy 2 years ago from the South

I'm glad we will be prepared when we go to New York...haha!


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dearest Catgypsy,

You are not wrong. We will have to honor these tips or be thrown into the East River with all of of the expired politicians that the mob didn't like and those awful beer cans and ruined cabbage. Ugggh.

Thanks, dear friend, for your sweet comment.

Love, Kenneth

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